I am exhausted. Or I'm getting sick. Or both. Or one leads from the other.
I think I blew out my nervous system this weekend...too much football on the brain. Too much excitement. Mentally, physically, and emotionally draining. Inability to sleep. It's not even elation when your team wins...it's a culmination of so much frustration, so much hope, so much bitterness and resentment...rooting for the home team and trying to be a fan in the face of local pressure to accept a loser mentality is just plain work at times.
I heard one sportscaster yesterday say, "If I had told you before the weekend started that three of the four home teams would lose in the play-offs, put your money on the one you think will win, would you have bet on the Seahawks?" If you're a Seattle fan you would have. I would have. Except for the Patriots, no team in football has had a better home playoff record (well, for teams with 3 or more home playoff games) since the realignment in 2001. Seattle lost its first home playoff game in 2004 to the Rams, and has won five straight since then.
We win at home. Which is why the prospect of being in the playoffs this year is so...ugh...over-stimulating.
Seattle travels to Chicago, a team that it has already beaten on-the-road this year. After that win Tony Dungy remarked the Seahawks looked like the best, most complete team in the NFC. Then we fell apart losing key players to injury on different weeks, showing our lack of depth.
Now we're healthy again. And Cutler is still the Bears' quarterback. It's difficult to beat the same team twice, more difficult still to win on the road, and ESPECIALLY difficult to beat a home team in the Division round after a first round bye, but it can be done. Carolina did it to Chicago, in fact, in 2005.
And if we win, it's quite possible we come back to Qwest Field. Green Bay is seeing Atlanta for the second time this year. This is Matt Ryan's first playoff game, and while they are an excellent all-around team, can they put together enough explosive plays to stop a red-hot Packers team that has shown they can win on the road in the playoffs?
And IF the Packers and Seahawks both win on the road this weekend, they return to Qwest the following week where the Seahawks play their best ball. While I can see Aaron Rodgers getting two road wins, it's awfully tough to sustain that energy three weeks in a row. Not in a stadium that registers seismic tremors on the Richter Scale.
But that's only half of what's been going through my head the last two days. Look at the AFC side. Baltimore travels to Pittsburgh, a team that, for all its flaws, seems to have the Ravens number. They both play tough (and dirty, at times), they both traded losses this year, but in a home playoff game, I give the Steelers the edge.
And the Jets are the one team that could surprise the Patriots. Much as I dig Danny Woodhead, the Patriots lack a true running game. The Jets have already traded wins with New England, and that last blow-out wasn't Reevis or Cromartie (or both) out with injury? If the Jets can slow down the Pats passing attack with their tough defense, and Sanchez and Tomlinson can have great games, they may be able to pull off the upset (MAYBE...as I said, the Pats have the best home playoff game record in the league, though they lost at Gillette Field in their first playoff game last year).
And THEN the Jets would travel to Pittsburgh where the Steelers also play tough defense (and dirty at times) and where Tomlinson will not be able to run effectively and where the Steelers may get another phantom touchdown as they sometimes do. Like the Packers, it's one thing to win on the road once, it's another to win on the road twice...but it's very challenging to get up the energy for three road wins in a row, especially in the playoffs. When the Steelers did it in '05, they were playing a Denver team quarterbacked by the lackluster Jake Plummer who turned the ball over four times.
So...Steelers versus Seahawks re-match in the Super Bowl.
Ugh - the thought of it makes me want to punch someone in the mouth. Probably a Steelers fan. It's a game the Seahawks could win; Pittsburgh is not a great team this year. Since Roethlisberger returned to the league following his "date rape" suspension, Pitt went 9 and 3. The nine wins?
Cleveland (twice); record 5-11
Cincinnatti (twice); record 4-12
Miami; record 7-9 (missing first and second QB)
Oakland; record 8-8
Buffalo (in over-time); record 4-12
Carolina; record 2-14
So yeah, a grudge match that the Seahawks can actually win. I'd give us no chance against the Patriots, and little against the Ravens (whose 12-4 record included wins against teams like Tampa Bay, the Saints, and the Jets). Likewise, I wouldn't like a Super Bowl match-up against the New York Jets, who would be in much the same role as the 2005 Steelers team (i.e. "America's Sweethearts"). I'd much rather be a 10 or 14 point underdog to a Pittsburgh team that already has more rings than it probably deserves and has a QB that people around the League enjoy watching get punched in the face.
And yet, if we DID go to the Super Bowl and faced the Steelers and LOST again, it might be more than my poor heart could bear. The resentment and spite might well rise up and choke me with my own bile.
Ugh. I feel exhausted.
[by the way, I realize some of my readers are Steelers fans. That's fine...I used to be a Steelers fan (after the Seahawks, that is) myself. Always liked their colors, back in the day. Now? Not so much...sorry, just my opinion]